Real-world experience: My placement at ICHP

Eugene Robles, who joined us as part of the Employ Autism programme reflects on his time as an intern at Imperial College Health Partners. Eugene was a wonderful addition to the ICHP team. We wish him all the best in the completion of his studies and are excited to see what he goes on to achieve in the future. 

For partners, clients and members of ICHP, it won’t come as a surprise that during my placement here, as part of Employ Autism programme, I found the organisation full of diligent, hard-working and kind members of staff.  

As my placement comes to an end, here are some of my key reflections on my time here and why it’s so important that organisations like ICHP continue to work to support Autistic young people into the workplace.  

Gaining confidence and competence 
One of the key things I wanted to achieve from my placement here was getting some real experience in an office environment. Having this opportunity to practice and try in a surrounding I’m not entirely used to was invaluable – and I’ve gained both confidence and competence in spades. Without a doubt this placement has been instrumental in a number of ways: giving me insight into how to work in an office, what the work is like, what I want to do, and even how the world works. It has been great in many ways! 

Giving extra headspace to the NHS 
Not only did the setting give me essential experience in the working world, but I found the work itselfmpactful, challenging and (best of all) I felt like I was solving a problem; contributing to something.  

As an organisation that has the expertise and resource to give “headspace” to the NHS, and prioritise innovation and improving patient experience, the spectrum of work I introduced to was fascinating. For example, I worked on an acute workstream to improve clinical and patient care in A&E by reducing violence and aggression towards members of staff and other patients. I also worked on the Digital Inclusion programme, as a data analyst helping to understand and analyse the results from the project. 

This was my first taste of this type of work and I thoroughly enjoyed it.  

Real world experience and real world impact 
While I gained “real world” experience in an office setting, I also learnt about real-world evidence and the real world impact of health innovation on patients. One highlight of my placement was participating in the facilitation of focus groups during the acute programme and beginning to understand the systems and barriers affecting patients. Participating in this kind of patient and public involvement and engagement shifted my understanding from what has previously been purely academic to something much more real and tangible. And solidified how important engaging communities in decision-making is.  

I really enjoyed my time at ICHP. My colleagues were a crucial part of this. While I wish I could stay longer and carry on this work, I’m excited about my next adventure. And that excitement and confidence is all thanks to working here.  

Employ Autism, was first developed by the Youth Patrons of Ambitious about Autism in 2015, as a campaign to increase employment opportunities for autistic people. By creating opportunities for autistic individuals to thrive, they aim to remove the disparities which autistic individuals face within the workplace. 

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